University of California-Berkeley Top Questions

Is the stereotype of students at your school accurate?

Merany

There are two primary stereotypes of a UC Berkeley student. 1. The Hippie Stoner: Because of our history in the 60's, when you say "I go to Berkeley", many people think you are an active protester, smoke pot all day, and only eat tree bark. 2. The Over-Achiever: This type of student has virtually no social life and keeps their nose in a book, so they can become a Doctor/Lawyer/I-Banker. Both stereotypes are partially true. Most of the students on campus lean to the left politically and every semester someone is protesting something. However, the largest group on campus is the Berkeley College Republicans, so there is some diversity of opinion, and while there is the occasional protest, most are small and most students tend to avoid them. Because Berkeley is academically rigorous, it also attracts the "Over-Achiever" but most people maintain a social life while earning "A"'s. We don't spend our Saturday nights in the library and spend just as much time talking about funny cat videos as we do talking about Schrodinger's Cat.

Melissa

The stereotype that I had of Berkeley students previously to attending school here was of hyper-liberal and very intellectually driven individuals. As it turns out, the hyper-liberal students tend to be less intellectually and more emotionally driven as they get caught up in the current of political activism. The intellectually driven students are often quiet, somewhat introverted, and low-key. The political extremist "hippie" image of the 60's and 70's has been reduced to representation through the more liberal faculty and the aging burnouts that roam the streets, homeless and befuddled.

Melissa

The stereotype that I had of Berkeley students previously to attending school here was of hyper-liberal and very intellectually driven individuals. Since then, I've encountered many other stereotypes of students that are probably more accurate than the one I had. The hyper-liberal students tend to be less intellectually and more emotionally driven as they get caught up in the current of political activism. The intellectually driven students are often quiet, somewhat introverted, and low-key.There are a lot of Asian students, many of which speak surprisingly little conversant English. Walking around on campus it seems like most of the students are Asian. The political extremist "hippie" image of the 60's and 70's has been reduced to representation through the more liberal faculty and the aging burnouts that roam the streets, homeless and befuddled.

Patricia

yes, but students here party a lot more than you would think. and no, berkeley really is not a school filled with the socially awkward. visit schools like davis and you'll find more of those. at berkeley, we study hard and then we party hard

Rory

Partially true.

Ryan

There are definitely tree-sitters, potheads, and stressed out students. However, those stereotypes do not even begin to properly describe the Cal population. Perhaps one of the best things about Cal, is that the people who come end up discovering that they're not so special anymore. They may have been the best and brightest wherever they were before, but now they may be average or dull compared to other people. So, people take up bag piping, archery, or take to wearing only purple. Thus, people become a lot more accepting of eachother's differences, because they understand how important it is to be different.

James

Liberal? Sure, plenty of that. Hippies? Not really in style these days among our generation, but I still spot a couple every once in a while. Marching in protest a la 1960s Free Speech Movement (for which UC Berkeley is probably most known for)? A far cry. UC Berkeley today is full of students who, while liberal, as would be expected of 20 year olds living in California, are as professional about living their college lives as any other college in the nation.

Jordan

Yes and no. There are some extremely liberal people, but they exist largely on the fringes. Most students are pretty apathetic and often politically moderate, but sometimes care about, and become advocates for, one specific issue. There are a lot of intelligent people at Berkeley and quite a few nerds. Intelligence, however, does not always translate into social intelligence.

Jessica

There are some supersmart students who can answer every question in class. But most students are normal, just like me, never consider myself very smart. Some exams are tough, but are reasonable if you know the right way to study. Some (most) exams are just not too hard, not too easy. It is very competitive at UC Berkeley. You have to study hard and study smart to excel.

Chris

This stereotype is pretty true. There is always something crazy going on (protests, demonstrations, strikes, walkouts, random yelling).

Dan

Insane people are very much in the minority. Liberals and environmentalists are prominent but rarely come with the irrationality that people claim them to have.

sara

I think Berkeley got its name for its radical nature during the free speech movement, but it has died down now. even on campus tours one of the first things guides tell parents is not to worry because the school is no longer as radical as it used to be. I am only a first year but in this year alone i have witnessed multiple protesters who take a place in a tree for long periods of time. Yes Berkeley students get high, but so do the students at the other universities, there are just more eyes on us because of the schools history. there are many smart people here though. at least one of the stereotypes is true.

Jerry

generally yes

Felicia

Majority of students definitely make time to have a social life outside of classes. However, I do feel that the university needs to be more diverse and make a better effort to outreach to underprivileged high schools.

Dylan

I would say that most stereotypes are not accurate. The issue of diversity is one that I find most intriguing... because although I do feel that Berkeley may exhibit a more "diverse" population than say, UCSB where you see a sea of blonde hair- girls in jean skirts wearing uggs and guys without shirts carrying their surfboards, minorities are still highly underrepresented and Asians make up about half the population...which is about the same as basically all the other UC's. So perhaps it is that diversity is pursued at Cal more than in other institutions and there are more outlets for this diversity to flourish. While there are students who are clearly at an intellectual level beyond most other people in that age group, I found that most of the time you could also find people right in the middle of the spectrum who may not be as "intellectual" but have so much to offer in regards to personal life experiences and personality. Not all Cal students are geniuses... to be honest I've run into people who I thought.. hmmm, interesting they come here because they arent all there it seems. You dont have to be a genius to come here, i think that is where the diversity comes in. Cal appreciates students for more than one typical intellectual backround and i think this is most apparent in its transfer student population. Some of the most intelligent people i have ran into are transfer re-entry students who seem to come in with a different perspective which can be quite refreshing. And no, not all professors are marxist-loving socialists. While there are clearly marxist sympathizers on the faculty it is not something that you can always expect. I think for me, most professors have been more of center, with a couple on the far right, and a couple on the far left. The good things is, professors usually welcome a challenge. While there may not be a ton of hippies on campus i think that students who are looking to be politically aware and active come here because of the reputation of free speech and protest, and this fraction of the population who is very passionate often is magnetized by the media and the general public and are the perceived "tree huggers." But there is more to Berkeley than that.

Shawn

To some extent. UC Berkeley is academically challenging but there are many resources and clubs that warm the campus up and help me feel supported here.

Alex

The students are hella competitive, and the girls are fine, as long as you like Asian.

Devin

there are a lot of free thinkers and liberals, as well as many intelligent people but I also think Berkeley students know how to balance their lives very well

Rosette

somewhat

Alice

There is definitely a liberal atmosphere and people are usually welcome to all ideas. Students protest and have booths on Sproul Plaza every weekday. There are homeless people on the streets and in People's Park which is very unfortunate. Even though Berkeley has its share of atheists, there are plenty of campus Christian fellowships, the number which surprised me because I did not think there will be. Students can be competitive, especially for ranked courses like Undergraduate Business Admin 10. However, for the other classes I have taken, people are generally open and helpful. If you get a good TA/GSI, all the better. There are many highly intelligent students who can rattle off formulas and facts but also many others who have interesting talents and skills, such as Rubik's cubing, surfing, etc.

Ryan

i think a lot of people are actually competitive and do study a lot compared to other colleges. and people are more open about their sexuality because i feel like the environment in berkeley offers a very free-ing and open place to voice many opinions and respect that

Kendall

To a certain extent, I believe that there are people who exemplify all stereotypes. However, that number of people is extremely small. It's unfair to judge the entire student body based on a few noticeable patterns. Sure, there are hippies and Asians and smart kids, but Berkeley contains a surprising number of conservative students, as well as students from other ethnic backgrounds and students who don't exceed academically.

Jesse

Probably. Though not as much as they used to be.

Mary

more or less. there are some liberal asians and some conservative white people though.

Summer

I think most of the students at Berkeley tend to be apathetic about politics or lean to the left, but there are also many conservative students and organizations. And, as to B, there are many intelligent people here, but they're more likely to be graduate students than undergrads. I'm constantly shocked at the level of ignorance of many of my classmates, it is appalling.

david

Some students are workaholics but not all. Yeah, the student population here is pretty ugly overall, but there are attractive students too. The stereotype about all Berkeley students being liberal is probably the most misleading. I would say that although there are few conservative students here, most of the student body is pretty apathetic politically.

arie

1. Uber-Leftists this is truer of the faculty than the students. Sure, berkeley has its fair share of naked protests against sweatshops and semi-naked tree dwellers decrying de-forestation on campus, but Sproul Plaza is populated by way more Asian Christian associations than progressive political movements. Also, lest ye forget, berkeley is home to Haas, one of the top business school in the country, and the only green those kids care about is the kind with famous dead guys' faces on it. So don't be surprised to find bush jokes in your bio lectures, and Nader campaign posters in your sociology professor's office, but rest assured, the kids are alright. 2. uber-competitive Berkeley is definitely an academically competitive school, but that being said, your experience will really depend on your major. If you study something useful, like a hard science, or business, you will be stressed out for 4 years, get used to it. If you pick a bullshit social science major like i did, things aren't so bad. Having studied both at UCSB and UCB i can tell you that Berkeley social science classes were not noticeably more challenging than those at the infamous "party school" in Santa Barbara. However, at Berkeley you have the advantage of being misled by big name professors, and so if i were you i would pick one early on and hold on for dear life so that by the end of 4 years you will have a minor celebrity writing your letter of recommendation for whatever institution you choose to attend after you realize a BA in a social science is worth about as much as your 1st grade report card, regardless of whether its from Berkeley or chico state. 3. uber-asian this is absolutely true, but why do you care? what are you, some kind of racist?

Tara

A lot of people like to get involved, and the extreme ones do stand out, but there are a lot of people who are just chilling with friends and studying at school. I would say that there is a slight overall feeling of trying to do things for the good of society and "changing the world," but whatever you are, at Cal, it's cool. :)

Stephanie

This is mostly true. There are overwhelming amounts of Asians on this campus. Not everyone is intensely studious, though most Asians are. From what I've encountered, out-of-state students are the most intelligent, transfer students work the hardest, and Californians (who make up most of the campus) are mediocre.

Jordan

Yes.

Julia

Well, the Bay Area is generally a fairly liberal place, but it is also really diverse. Berkeley has its fair share of stoners and bleeding hearts, but it also has a number of conservative students who come for the oustanding acedemic programs and post-graduation job prospects. The acedemic atmosphere is just as diverse. Although certain majors can be really difficult (EECS, MCB, etc.), I didn't encounter much difficulty as a History major. Same deal with the student body. Some will blow your mind with their intellegence and the ease with which they accomplish things. Others seem to be in a constant battle to keep their head above water...or have just stopped trying.

Torry

Some are, yes, but usually not completely. -Many of the students are very smart, but I have encountered my fair share of people who are not. Sadly, many of these, in my experience, have been athletes who did not get into to this school based on intelligence. Based on the performances of others (and myself) there are times when I ask myself "How did I get in here?" times when I ask "How did they get in here?" and times when I think I could have gone somewhere better. All in all, however, the students at Berkeley are very hard working and smart. It is not as easy to get an A on a test or paper as it was in high school! -While a large part of the student population is Asian, there are people of all sorts of races and backgrounds, and no one person is the same. I feel lucky that I have been exposed to all different kinds of people. It is easy to lump people together into groups, but I have found that everyone brings their own, unique experience regardless of ethnicity or nationality. -I don't think Berkeley students are any more radical or liberal than a lot of large universities. I think that the history of activism on behalf of students (I am thinking of the Free Speech Movement and Vietnam war protests in particular), along with activism on the part of Berkeley residents (not so much students) is why this stereotype lives on. With some exceptions, I usually find that people are just like me-- liberally minded, yes, but not to an extreme. I also know a fair share of conservative people, who I am glad to call my friends. -As for there not being very many attractive students, I have to say that this one might have some validity. If you visit a private school in Southern California, you are bound to see more physically "attractive" people. However, I have found that that is not a very important factor in determining the worth of a person. Besides, in my experience I have noticed that the theory of a negative correlation between attractiveness and intelligence is actually true, but I would rather be surrounded by smart, average-looking people, than not-so-smart beautiful people.

Sherry

It is not until you step on campus during a school day and walk into a lecture hall full of students as diverse and as large as the ones here at Berkeley, do you realize that Berkeley is a lot more than the stereotypes make it out to be. As with any school, although the Berkeley student body has its extremities, a large majority of us fall in between these categories. I wouldn?t say that the stereotypes about Berkeley are inaccurate, but that these stereotypes only barely scrape the surface of what Berkeley truly is. Berkeley is much more than the hippies and the activists of the sixties; it is a continuously progressing forefront of technological, social, and political change.

Kendall

Yes! Very!

Andy

If by "dorks" you mean "smart people", sure, I'd say the average person here is fairly intelligent. Then again, for there to be an average, there's always the upper half and the lower half. Also, and most importantly, it all depends on what you mean by "smart".

Ben

I was surprised at how many people didn't fit the stereotypes when I came here. Honestly, I was disappointed, because I wanted more liberal-well-read types, but I quickly learned to ignore the nutty sports fans and the sleazy frat boys and without too much work found tons of the kinds of people I wanted to. The studious Asian stereotype is true in full force, but there are also plenty of people whom look like the studious type but are actually major screw ups. You never know.

Evan

These do not seem to be real. I think it's pretty silly to blame any circumstances ("There just aren't any cute guys/girls at this school") when it is dumb to do so.

Bob

By visiting UC Berkeley, one is almost guaranteed to see some activism. Case in Point: There are people living in the oak trees, protecting the trees from Football Stadium upgrades. There is a man who stands at the front of campus, sarcastically shouting his happiness with George Bush Women for Palestine come to campus and speak often. Students dish out issues of the Cal Patriot, a conservative political news magazine. etc. Given these examples, it seems that the stories are true, that Berkeley is still very political. From my perspective, this is somewhat of a misleading statement. It's true that Berkeley is political, but mainly the city of Berkeley. The student body is more or less apathetic. If you'd prefer to go to a school more reminiscent of the good-ol-days (http://sunsite.berkeley.edu/calhistory/60s.html), I'd recommend going to a smaller liberal-arts college, or making lots of money and purchasing a house in the Berkeley hills. Continuing on... 2a. There are indeed a lot of asians, but this isn't really a bad thing. Typically, I am the minority in my computer science classes, but this doesn't really bother me. I guess the one bad thing I can say isn't directly attributed to the large Asian population. The diversity at Berkeley is lacking. The student body can be broken up into asians, Caucasians, others, where this "others" is very very small. The African American and Hispanic population is vastly underrepresented, and this is something of miss from my high school days. Much of the time I find myself wishing I could meet a wider variety of people, perhaps practice my spanish. 2b. Not everyone is a genius at Cal, this is definitely not a requirement. So if you're worried that you won't be able to compete with the college kids, just realize that everyone has the same sentiments. It is true though that students work really hard and there is a definite competitive edge**. **In computer science I find a mutual kindred respect of one's fellow student. People are very friendly and helpful. The same can not be said about other fields like Chemistry.

James

Yes and no. Lots of students in Berkeley are smart; lots of them are also dumb and manage to fall through the cracks of the admissions process. There are a surprising number of Christian fellowships on campus, and several of them are affiliated with no particular church or denomination, which, one could argue, is dangerous. What's unique about many of the Christians here, though, is that the campus really tests your faith: you fight or die. Many of the professors will outright ridicule the Bible and religion in general. A lot of student groups push for pluralism or universalism. Many of your classmates don't give two cents about the meaning of life. It's definitely hard, but it just makes you stronger. Hippies are a minority (unless you count the shirtless people who play frisbie on Memorial Glade).

Anton

Co opers tend to be more like that. Only a minority of them.

christopher

to a certain extent, these stereotypes are accurate. it all depends on how you look at each label and whether or not you're looking to validate each stereotype. bottom line at Berkeley: if you're looking for it, you can find it.

Aileen

to an extent. all of these types of people do exist (admittedly in larger numbers than other places), but it can be a lot more normal than you think. sometimes, everyone is a little bit of all. and yes--berkeley is underfunded and overcrowded. academics are only competitive in the math/science realm.

Josiah

1 Yes 2 Yes 3 Not really. 4 Only my friend Lacey, most people either grow pot or wear hemp, but not both. 5 Many of them are, but not all. 6 True, but what do I know.

Lisa

I think that many people believe that Asian groups on campus are rather exclusive, and isolate themselves from other, racially different individuals and groups. The standard "athletes are dumb" and "fraternity/sorority types are dumb/jerks/sluts/mean" is one that is also generally held (and that has gone unchalleneged in my mind). People tend to dislike hipsters because often times they come off as snooty, with an attitude that they are better/smarter/have better taste than most. Co-opers are where you see the "hippie" stereotype live on. Many of these stereotypes are somewhat accurate, but there are always counter-examples if you look hard enough.

Allison

There are people who ascribe to these stereotypes at Berkeley, but they are not the common Berkeley student. Everybody is a nerd, obviously, if being a nerd means being uniquely interested in life. I think there is a little bit of everything at Berkeley. Whatever you are (even if you don't know who you are yet!) you will find your niche here.

dwight

The University is actually fairly mainstream on the liberal to conservative spectrum. While both the city of Berkeley and the Cooperative Students are still very radical in their positions, the average student seems to care mostly about good grades and their social life more than any conceptual agenda. The most common groups encountered on Sproul (the main plaza) are ethnic or religiously based and serve to raise awareness while providing a networknig chassis for the students of that culture. For the next rumor, students at Berkeley generally really dont look as good or act as cool as UCLA or UCSB kids. Berkeley goggles, the permanent lowering of standards to allow an acceptable frequency of physical intimacy, is a common condition which Berkeley grads acquire. That said, your competition for the few attractive souls goes way, way down. Berkeley is the best public institution reputation wise, although unless you actively take charge of your education you may do better going to a smaller, less prestigious school where you will have more time to actually engage with your professors. I personally have had at least half of my classes from brilliant, inscrutable professors who essentially forced me to teach myself the subject from the book; however, the genius of your fellow students in promoting thought and competitive motivation should not be underestimated. Finally, Berkeley (at the very least int he sciences) gets most funding frm research rather than teaching.

Van

Not at all. UC Berkeley's past may be liberal, but much has changed since then. Plenty of activities abound for the liberal, moderate, or conservative. UC Berkeley students may not care much about appearances, but even smart people can be sociable. As for the drug use or hot students (or lack thereof), one should come and make a decision for himself/herself.

Ryan

Mostly. Disproving my stereotypes: Maureen, a history major, does not wear glasses. I have one good friend who is an MCB major, but she hates it. Jason Wexler is cool. UC Berkeley is not full of hippies. In fact, I hate hippies.

Royce

While student activism remains a part of the student life at Berkeley, today's activism is quite different from that of the 1960s. The campaign season of 2008 is reawakening the political and social activism of the student body, which has become disillusioned in recent years. Many Berkeley students are of Asian heritage, and most Berkeley students are studious; however, Berkeley does have more to offer, though effort is involved.

Devin

While Berkeley in general retains its rigorous academic standards -- though as in any institution there are easier and harder paths -- the climate of the school has changed dramatically. I would say, contentiously, that for better or worse political activism has become passe at Berkeley, and that while many people are deeply engaged in it they themselves are seen as defying the norm by the vast majority of more apathetic students. With the loss of affirmative action and the great influx of Asian-American students held to much more stringent academic standards by their families, the focus has changed and the campus has fragmented; the various social groups, being so different from one another and lacking the cohesive force that existed decades ago, engage each other less. The norm is now defined by the hard-working student struggling through yet another disastrous o-chem midterm, all of whom cast a wary but tolerant eye at frat-going rugby dudebro and flamboyant hipster co-oper alike. Berkeley's magic remains, because its huge campus is always open to invasion whether by strange characters or wild ideas, but not all of even its students are aware. You have to be willing to leave your comfort zone to find it.

Featured Scholarship

Don't miss out on this easy scholarship! Enter the $5,000 Crush Your Debt giveaway from Scholly.

Last day to enter is January 31st!

All eligible high school students, college students, student parents, and others should apply

X